A/N: Set the morning after the farm attack.
2.13.1 The first time Daryl took the blame.
"I thought it best if people didn't know." Rick's jaw was set firmly, his glare challenged anyone to speak out against his choice. They didn't. They watched him as he gave them all a deeply haunted look, then turned and proceeded to walk down the road, with Lori tailing behind him.
Beth's heart was pumping adrenaline furiously around her body. Her mind was still reeling from losing the farm the night before, from losing Patricia, and finding out Jimmy was dead, and being scared she might not see her sister or father again. And now to find out they were all infected.
She took two steps to the side of the barren road and looked up to the shimmering fall leaves, swaying against the dull grey sky.
Her breaths shuddered in her chest, her knees knocked together and she stretched her fingers down towards the roadside barrier in an effort to steady herself.
Daryl was standing to her side, hunched over his crossbow as he pulled back on the string to cock it. His eyes lifted to her, and without shifting his gaze, he slotted a bolt into place, swung the bow over his shoulder and stepped in closer to her.
"You doin' a'right?"
Beth looked up into his cool blue eyes, shadowed as if he had as little sleep as her the night before. "Yeah…I'm just…we're all infected." She sighed and looked back to the trees.
"Yeah. Kinda messed up ain't it." Daryl ran his thumb over the strap that crossed his chest, and then kicked his worn boots into the moist orange leaves that covered the road.
"I'm sorry, Beth." He muttered.
Beth glanced over her shoulder towards Daryl, his shoulders slackened and eyes to the ground. There was blood spatter on his cheeks and forehead, and fat thick droplets spotted on his neck beginning to crackle now they were dry, but Beth was certain it wasn't his.
"What for?" her voice was so quiet, she wasn't even sure if he heard it.
" 'bout Jimmy..." He sighed and turned his eyes up to the grey sky, squinting slightly.
Beth turned her eyes back to the gold and burnt orange leaves of the oaks. She was more upset about losing the farm and Patricia than losing Jimmy. They had only been together for a little over three months, and they had only stayed together as a matter of convenience. There weren't that many boys her age left at the time, and she just wanted someone to take her mind off everything that was going on. Her insides clench with discomfort as she felt guilt about not shedding as many tears for him as she probably should.
"Thanks." She muttered in reply.
"T'was my fault." Daryl shifted nervously on his feet, "Him dyin'. I sent him to take the RV over to the barn, to get Carl and Rick."
Beth smirked to herself, "are you doin' that thing I taught you?"
Daryl looked up at her, eyes still squinting, but now as if in confusion, "What thing?"
"Takin' some of the load. Tryin' to make me feel better."
Daryl turned his eyes away from her, looking up the embankment towards the woods, and gave his shoulders a firm shrug.
"You're right." Beth said taking a step toward him, wrapping her arms around her shoulders to ward off the cold shiver that was running through her. "It was your fault. Your fault that Carl and Rick lived. And Jimmy's fault too." She frowned to herself. "He didn't die for nothin'."
"Yeah." Daryl muttered, his eyes still glued to the woods, as if to avoid her gaze.
"I think Jimmy would be happy knowin' I've still got someone here to take care of me, right?" She reached out to touch his hand that was gripped onto the strap of his crossbow, but before she had got within an inch, he flinched away and took a step back.
His eyes looked cold and wary at first, but seemed to soften the longer he held her gaze.
Daryl nodded his agreement, and then backed away from her, "I'm gonna hunt us some dinner." He tossed his head towards the woods, "Sure you're okay? 'bout everythin' else. You ain't gonna do nothin' stupid are you?"
Beth knew he was referring to her suicide attempt.
She tucked her hand into the pocket of her denim jacket and produced the leather cuff bracelet he had given her the morning before.
She smiled sweetly at him. "Everythin' will be okay. I have faith."
A/N: Not sure if I'll do another one for this episode or not, just yet. The next several chapters I'm going to be getting more creative. I've got 7 months of time to fill between season 2 and 3!
Thanks for reading and reviewing. I welcome suggestions. Especially to fill that 7 months.